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One of the most frequent problems associated with orthodontic treatment is the development of sores or blisters on the cheek, lips and gums. Fortunately most of these minor irritations can be resolved relatively easily and quickly. Often times, it is simply a matter of getting used to new appliances in the mouth. Orthodontic wax (or even better, sugarless gum) can be applied over the wire or the brace that is causing the discomfort. Eventually the soft tissues will adapt and the soreness will disappear.

A specific type of sore—called a canker sore-- can develop inside the mouth as small white or gray areas that have a red border. These are not contagious but are often painful, the cause is unknown (although trauma is often suspected), they can occur in multiple locations, and they are frequently aggravated by spicy and acidic foods. Canker sores usually heal on their own after a week or two. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics and antimicrobial mouthrinses may provide temporary relief.

Another type of sore—called a cold sore or fever blister—can also appear as clusters of red, raised blisters outside the mouth, typically around the lips, although they can also appear on tissues inside the mouth. These blisters are filled with fluid, are highly contagious and can scab over until they heal. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus in which the initial infection can be accompanied by cold and flu like symptoms. Once you are infected, the virus stays in the body causing occasional flare-ups with these associated sores and blisters. These sores and blisters can also be quite painful but usually heal up within a week. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics can provide some pain relief. In severe cases, your dentist or orthodontist may prescribe antiviral drugs to reduce the healing time. 

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.